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change in college

updated mon 31 mar 97


Linda Arbuckle on sun 16 mar 97


In response to your observations about college faculty being taken away from
the classroom more and more... yes. I have the same experience, and no easy

The model for college teaching 20 years ago was different than my perception
of what goes on now. Faculty are required to be more involved in committee
work. I've has students complain about the number of meetings and amount of
committee work faculty do. It's a problem, but the faculty are not attending
meetings for themselves, but to make sure there is an experienced voice
representing the interest of their area or dept. in matters that vitally
concern students. In ART AND FEAR by Orland and Bayles they have a section
on artists in academia, and recommend that artists in education either
refuse to do the committee work, or do it so badly no one will ask them
again. This is not a service to students in my opinion. If faculty committee
members blow off reading all those applications for the foundation position
(at UF over 160 applicants for this year's foundation search), and someone
who is mediocre gets hired, it's not the faculty who suffer, it's the
students. So with much committee work. If you don't show up, they make
decisions without you (like how claly is purchased, monies distributed,
curriculim formed... ), and your voice is not represented. Often your area
and the concerns that effect your students are left out. While I wouldn't
say those meetings on the response to the mandate to increase graduate
enrollment are fascinating, I wouldn't say they were meaningless. It's an
attempt to get something done by committee, which moves and bumps along.
It's not a perfect system, but most of those meetings are called in good
faith by someone trying to accomplish something.

The solution to this will not happen, in my opinion. More time to do these
things, more faculty to cover teaching load. Right now many people are
convinced that college faculty have some great scam going and have this very
cushy feathered nest, from where they take it easy. State legislation values
other things more highly, (and part of this mandate comes from voters) than
education. In the sunshine state, more is spent per capita on jail inmates
than on students. Administrators are trying creatively in many ways to make
this better. Sometimes this effort to justify to external sources creates a
lot of paperwork to generate "measures of quality", very popular at the
moment. Makes for a lot of bean-counting, but if you don't do it, you may
lose funding and support. Yes, there is a bottom-line mentality afoot.

The faculty person's shows... in most research universities, this is part of
the employment mandate. If the facutly member is too busy to keep working,
they will not get promoted, get merit pay, etc. The university values and
rewards a national reputation and professional involvement in the field
because it's good for the students and program. A faculty member having
shows is more likely to recruit good students to the program, which raises
the caliber of the experience for everyone, as well as have contacts in the
field and information for students wishing to enter the field. It's not all
personal promotion when faculty do professional activities outside of the
classroom. A visible faculty member has a higher recognition level for
letters of recommendation, reputation of the program than someone who isn't
involved in the field at large. Visibility is also part of the funding
equation, and lends credibility to the program, which may influence funding
decisions. Adminstrators enjoy rewarding people who are working hard and
making things happen.

One thing that hasn't changed, I think... good education is usually on the
back of those people who care about what they do enough to go beyond the
letter of their employment. I've said before in this forum that the people I
admire as artist/educators are usually very busy people, pulled in multiple
directions, who give a great deal. Thankfully, I've had some of those
teachers, and it made a difference to me in a way that I can't thank them
enough for, just hope to pass it on.

So, I don't have any answers about changing management style, getting more
funding or faculty, or more hours in the day. It's important that faculty
and students continue to care and to participate in the process... like you
raising the question on ClayArt. If you participate at your university...
form a student ad hoc committee, discuss the issues, make an appointment
with the chair to discuss your concerns about increased faculty
administrative load impacting classroom time... you'll find you may be taken
out of the classroom yourself for some of your day, but you may make things
better as well. Be active. It helps.


Linda Arbuckle
Graduate Advisor, Assoc. Prof.
University of FL Department of Art
P.O. Box 115801
Gainesville, FL 32611-5801

Marcia Selsor on mon 17 mar 97

I agree with Linda on this. I have 3.5 years to go to 25 years early
retirement and I can't wait. I lost a full time assistant to our
Sculpture and Ceramics Building 11 years ago which has resutled in my
doing those duties. I just recently had to fill out a TRS form for the
legislature (Teaching Research and Service time accountability). I put
in 49 hours and NONE of that is working on my own creative ceramics. I
did include caring for the building, reporting clogged drains, writing
work orders for doors that are falling off the hinges, lights that don't
work, loading and firing kilns with students who can't be there for an
entire firing because they work two jobs to pay the tuition. I have a
search comm. mtg on Mon. for a new Art Historian, Tues. meeting w.
Student Senate to grovel for funds for my students to attend NCECA,also
Tues. a meeting for standard 8a for the Northwest accreditation for this
year. Wed. weekly dept. mtg, Thurs. Academic/Faculty Senate going over
new General Ed. requirements, Friday Senior exhibition reviews (oral
exams of two graduating seniors). This is on top of 18 class hours with
60 students. My office hours are for advising and paperwork. My studio
is at home since the Univ. has no space (not to mention any inclination)
to provide for faculty. Our Collective Bargaining Agreement (we are
unionized faculty) requires for promotion (pay raise*) and tenure (job
security) that we fulfill requirements for: research (usually
publications but do they acknowledge exhibitions as artistic research
unless it sells (?!)), Teaching excellence (if your evaluations are not
"excellent" you are bounced!), Service (this includes all those wasteful
committee meetings as well as community activity, etc.).
I am teaching a Ceramics Art History seminar at home on top of my load
because ceramics is not covered in our Art History courses. My students
seems to love it and are getting a lot out of it which makes it
gratifying for me. If this is a cushy job, then I don't have chronic
fatique syndrome!
Marcia in Montana
* Montana is among the lowest salaried faculty in the country. My salary
as a full professor after 22.5 years including 2 more years (contract
step 24.5) for professional experience as a potter, comes to $44,000. My
brother in law on Long Island makes $72,000 in the NY Public school
system after 20 years of teaching 3rd grade. I gave up professional
potting after a serious illnes which broke me. I like the medical
coverage with my job. Teaching IS a job. Potting is too and perhaps
doesn't have the same benefits but there are always trade offs.
Marcia Selsor

Carolyn Broadwell on mon 17 mar 97

Linda couldn't have said it better!!!

I am teaching at the community college level, and the same applies

I think that some of the reasons for the increased involvement of
legislators here in California is the decrease and changes in funding
methods as a result of Prop. 13, back in late '70's, and the increase in
legal challenges that institutions face. Some of these same factors must
apply across the country, but I gather from news sources that California
often leads the pack.

Richard Burkett on tue 18 mar 97

I agree that something must be done to remove some of the bureaucratic
load in the schools, not only in colleges but also in the public school
system. Too many teachers are doing everything but teaching, largely due
to micromanagement from above (upper level administrators and, more
dangerously, legislators). In the name of saving money and trying to
improve schools, mis-directed legislators have inflicted a mountain of
paper work to save a penny. This is not efficient, and in the end probably
costs much more than is being saved. To solve this problem (you say you
want better schools?) requires strong input from the voting public. Let
your legislator know that it's time to simplify the system.

I have to say that I love teaching. Academia has a lot of perks that
largely balance the pain of dealing with the bureaucracy. Creativity and
art have little in common with bureaucracy, and most artists I know chafe
heavily when confronted with bureaucratic tangles. Mostly I can't complain
that much. I was a self-employed studio potter for the first half of my
career. Each has its benefits and problems.

I agree with Linda that ignoring bureaucracy does not make it go away. We
have to fight bureaucracy at every turn. One has to go to those meetings,
serve on those committees if nothing else than to just be able to say 'no'
to more of the same, yet somehow we have to avoid becoming part of the
problem. It's a sticky issue.


Richard Burkett - School of Art, SDSU, San Diego, CA 92182-4805
E-mail: <-> Voice mail: (619) 594-6201
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